School Record 97 Student-Athletes Earn Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Awards
July 18, 2017
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State student-athletes have smashed another school academic record, with 97 Nittany Lions earning Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Awards for the 2016-17 academic year.
The record total is an increase of 16 from last year's then-record total of 81. Penn State's five highest Distinguished Scholar totals have come in the past five years, increasing 30 percent since the 2012-13 academic year (68 to 97). Nittany Lion students have broken the school mark for honorees in four of the past five years.
The Nittany Lions' 97 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars were the second-highest total among all conference institutions for 2016-17.
The Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award is presented to student-athletes who have recorded a minimum grade-point average of 3.7 or higher during the previous academic year and are letterwinners. (Complete list of Penn State honorees below).
The 97 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars continues what has been a record-setting year for Penn State student-athletes, including re-writing marks with a 3.14 combined grade-point average in the spring semester (record 66 percent with 3.0 GPA), 114 graduates in May and a record-tying 299 Academic All-Big Ten honorees.
Penn State Highest Big Ten Distinguished Scholar totals (+30% Since 2012-13): 2016-17: 97 (School Record) 2015-16: 81 2013-14: 73 2014-15: 69 2012-13: 68 (first year with men's and women's hockey)
Nine Nittany Lion student-athletes posted perfect 4.0 grade point averages this past year: Chase Berger, men's ice hockey; Madison Day, women's lacrosse; Haleigh Echard, women's soccer; Kate Granahan, women's golf; Mackenzie Hornibrook, women's swimming and diving; Geno Morelli, wrestling; Noah Roberson, men's gymnastics; Devon Van Cura, wrestling and Tyler Yazujian, football.
The women's track and field team led all Penn State squads with 10 Distinguished Scholars. The NCAA semifinalist women's lacrosse squad had nine honorees and the NCAA Champion wrestling team was third with seven Distinguished Scholars. The field hockey and women's soccer squads were next with six recipients apiece, followed by the men's and women's hockey teams and women's swimming and diving squad with five Distinguished Scholars each.
Field hockey, men's hockey, women's soccer, women's track and field and wrestling all won Big Ten titles this past year.
Russ Mushinsky, Director of the Morgan Academic Center, reported that seven Penn State teams either led or were tied for first among all Big Ten schools in the number of Distinguished Scholars in their respective sports: women's basketball, women's golf, men's hockey, women's lacrosse, men's tennis, women's tennis and wrestling.
The record 97 honorees boosts Penn State to 604 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars since the program was established by the Big Ten Faculty Representatives in 2008-09 to supplement the Academic All-Big Ten program.
Similar to the Academic All-Big Ten honor, Distinguished Scholar Award recipients must be letterwinners in at least their second academic year at their institution. The Distinguished Scholar Award encompasses only students with a minimum GPA of 3.7 or higher for the previous academic year, excluding summer school.
Penn State student-athletes, who have captured 31 Big Ten Championships and conference-best eight NCAA titles since the 2012 fall semester, consistently have been among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees. In addition to the recent spring semester GPA records, a sampling of their recent academic accomplishments includes:
-In November 2016, the NCAA released its annual national graduation rates study, which revealed that Penn State student-athletes earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 89 percent compared to the 84 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2006-07 through the 2009-10 academic year. The 89 percent graduation figure was just one point off Penn State's 90 percent all-time graduation record mark and one point higher than the 2015 figure.
- The NCAA reported in May that 18 Penn State teams earned perfect Academic Progress Rate scores of 1,000 in 2015-16, up from 13 in last year's report and 10 squads in 2013-14, representing a 44 percent improvement over the past two years.
-A school record 114 student-athletes graduated in May, breaking the previous mark of 109, set during the 2013 spring semester and tied last year. Including the 2016 fall semester, a total of 142 student-athletes have earned their diplomas thus far in 2016-17, with additional graduates in August.
-A school record 145 Nittany Lion students from the spring/at-large sports earned Academic All-Big Ten accolades. The 145 honorees boosted Penn State to 299 Academic All-Big Ten honorees in 2016-17, tying the record set last year. The previous high among the spring/at-large sports was 140, also set in 2015-16.
-Penn State is second among all Big Ten institutions with 5,875 Academic All-Big Ten honorees since 1991-92, its first year of competition in some Big Ten sports.
-Penn State has had 198 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans all-time, including five honorees in 2016-17, which ranks fifth among all NCAA institutions and fourth among Division I schools.
Penn State 2016-17 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars